December 12, 2006


A Dictator's Double Standard (Washington Post, December 12, 2006)

It's hard not to notice, however, that the evil dictator leaves behind the most successful country in Latin America. In the past 15 years, Chile's economy has grown at twice the regional average, and its poverty rate has been halved. It's leaving behind the developing world, where all of its neighbors remain mired. It also has a vibrant democracy. Earlier this year it elected another socialist president, Michelle Bachelet, who suffered persecution during the Pinochet years.

Like it or not, Mr. Pinochet had something to do with this success. To the dismay of every economic minister in Latin America, he introduced the free-market policies that produced the Chilean economic miracle -- and that not even Allende's socialist successors have dared reverse. He also accepted a transition to democracy, stepping down peacefully in 1990 after losing a referendum.

By way of contrast, Fidel Castro -- Mr. Pinochet's nemesis and a hero to many in Latin America and beyond -- will leave behind an economically ruined and freedomless country with his approaching death. Mr. Castro also killed and exiled thousands. But even when it became obvious that his communist economic system had impoverished his country, he refused to abandon that system: He spent the last years of his rule reversing a partial liberalization. To the end he also imprisoned or persecuted anyone who suggested Cubans could benefit from freedom of speech or the right to vote.

The contrast between Cuba and Chile more than 30 years after Mr. Pinochet's coup is a reminder of a famous essay written by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the provocative and energetic scholar and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who died Thursday. In "Dictatorships and Double Standards," a work that caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan, Ms. Kirkpatrick argued that right-wing dictators such as Mr. Pinochet were ultimately less malign than communist rulers, in part because their regimes were more likely to pave the way for liberal democracies. She, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right.

There's hardly a surer indicator that you'll be vindicated by History than the degree to which you're vilified by the Left.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 12, 2006 11:05 AM

Macduff has been very, very quiet, is he/she hunting rabbits?

Posted by: Sandy P at December 12, 2006 2:58 PM

Our local liberal rag had a photo of Pinochot on the cover in full Gestapo getup saluting someone off camera, presumably the Fuhrer.

I don't know how to paste it here, but it's quite amusing.

Posted by: erp at December 12, 2006 3:33 PM

listen closely for the sound of Katie Graham spinning in her grave.

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at December 12, 2006 5:59 PM

I wonder if Chris Dodd will go to Castro's funeral? Will he give a eulogy?

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 12, 2006 11:06 PM